Should I see a pharmacist instead of a doctor?

​​​​​​​Avoid the wait at the GP and know when to visit your pharmacist instead. Look at how your pharmacist can help you.
A woman outside a hospital

Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses.

The pharmacist will let you know if you need to go and visit a doctor however they can help you with a number of things first. 

Can a pharmacist prescribe medication?

Pharmacists can offer advice and over-the-counter medication to help with a range of common conditions and minor injuries such as:

  • common ailments such as coughs, colds and the flu
  • tummy trouble,
  • aches and pains,
  • skin rashes
  • cystitis
  • access to the morning after pill and pregnancy tests

Your pharmacist can help manage repeat prescriptions and help with any questions that you might have about medication that you have been prescribed by the doctor.

If you’re taking lots of different medicines, you may be able to have a Medicines Use Review with your pharmacist to help you work out when you should be taking your medication and discuss any questions or side effects.

Find your nearest pharmacist

Go to NHS website

Do I need to see the doctor every time I need a prescription?

Not necessarily, your pharmacist can help manage repeat prescriptions for you. If you take medication on a regular basis and your condition is stable, your GP may be able to offer a long-term repeat prescription.

Who do I turn to about general advice for my health and wellbeing?

You can visit your pharmacist instead of your GP about how best to keep you and your family well. They’ve all sorts of advice, from how to eat healthily, lose weight, and what type of exercise you could be doing.

What other services do pharmacists offer?

Your local pharmacist might also offer other NHS services such as smoking cessation, blood pressure tests, weight management and flu vaccination. To find out what your community pharmacist offers, just ask them.

What training do pharmacists have?

All pharmacists train for five years in the use of medicines. They are also trained in managing minor illnesses and providing health and wellbeing advice.

Is a chat with my pharmacist confidential?

Many pharmacies have a private consultation room where you can discuss issues with pharmacy staff without being overheard. Ask them if you would like to talk in private.

More information

For more information, or for a large print or easy read guide please visit the NHS website

You can also watch this British Sign Language (BSL) video guide to find out how a pharmacist can help.

Other services that can help you find the right treatment

  • Your local Healthwatch They can help you find the right treatment and support. Find your nearest Healthwatch here.

  • NHS 111 They can advise whether a trip to the pharmacy, doctors or A&E is the most appropriate for you. Just call 111.
  • A&E If you are in need of urgent medical care call 999 or go to your nearest A&E department. Find your nearest A&E services here